Tree face

There is no such thing as a bad picture

My wise old grandmother

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My wise old grandmother (MWOG) was a very astute woman, even though all she had was a first-grade education. She dropped out of school when her dad died to help work the farm. It was from her that I first heard the expression, “Graduated from the school of hard knocks.” I believe it was one of best schools of her era.

MWOG was never witthout her camera, first a Kodak and later on a Polaroid. She was always taking pictures. Some were good, some were bad. None were ever thrown away because “they documented who was there.” Once those pictures came out of the cameras — they were “instamatic” cameras — she set them aside for the weekend when she would put them in her scrapbooks and photo albums. She would make cutouts — stars, houses, cars…. — and paste them in her books and albums to decorate the pages. She would write on the photos — front or back — the date, the people, the event…. She taught me that “what comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with.”

I have always taken her message to heart about a picture documenting an event. My photo drive filing system has two main folders: BAD and GOOD. Bad pictures could mean anything: picture too small to use alone, out of focus, too dark, too light, wrong color balance, overexposed sky, underexposed foreground…. on and on. I keep them because of….

drum roll please

thank you

Photoshop, Lightroom, Photoshop Elements, Paintshop Pro, Photo-Paint, Picassa, Gimp, and many others, too many to list them all.

I used both Photoshop and Photo-Paint from their initial releases back in the 1980s through 1993 when I moved from Texas to San Diego. After 1993 I didn’t need them for my business. A couple of years ago I upgraded the old programs; that was an experience.

Adobe wasn’t happy with me since I had gone 17 years without upgrading, skipping Photoshop versions 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, CS, CS2, CS3, and CS4. That’s three or four thousand dollars they lost by me not upgrading every 18 months. They weren’t about to let me upgraded from version 3 to CS5 for a mere $300…. ha! I had to buy a full, new version.

Corel,, the makers of Photo-Paint and now PaintShop Pro, were only too happy to have an old customer returning to their fold. They were impressed that I had the serial number and registration number for my old program, and they happily gave me an upgrade price for the downloadable full program. Yeah, Corel!

I have been giving preference to Photoshop because it has turned into a very complicated program with a steep learning curve. Recently I discovered plugins, making Photoshop fun, too. One of the plugins I discovered is “Fractalius” by Redfield.

(Note that Redfield is a Russian company. I’m distrustful of the Russians. The verdict yesterday concerning Pussy Riot simply reinforces my distrust of the Russians. I paid with PayPal to give me some protection against a sham company although the mere fact that the Russians accepted PayPal gave me hope. Redfield doesn’t have an instant downloadable link on their web site, preferring to send a link via email, and stating at various stages that the email will arrive no later than (1) four hours, (2) 12 hours, and (3) 24 hours. After 24 hours, no link. I complained to PayPal and also send Redfield an email. Almost 24 hours later I got an email from Redfield with a link. I’m happy with the plugin but they probably won’t get any more of my business.)

Fractalius has to be the coolest little piece of software ever. I previously showed an example of what it can do (see Creating a work of art with Photoshop plugins). That work of art illustrates only a small fraction of the fun one can have with Fractalius. After playing with it for a while, I took two pictures that I’ve been dieing (or is it dying?) to do something with and started having fun. Here are the two original pictures:

Tree eyes and nose

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tree hands, mouth, and tongue

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Although the pictures are of one tree face, the two pictures are quite different in their focus. The top one has a big, white blob in the upper right, and the bottom one has poor focus on some of the tree and the background. Both were in my BAD pictures file folder.

I played with the two pictures individually and got this:

Tree eyes and nose

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tree hands, mouth, and tongue

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Not bad but I wanted a complete picture (don’t ask me why I didn’t just flip my camera 90° and take a tall picture to begin with….). I tried putting the two pictures together but wasn’t happy with the result. That’s when it occurred to me that I should put the two pictures together first:

Tree face

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I used Photoshop to clone some areas to get a little better focus, get rid of the white blob, and make the two pictures more seamlessly fit together. I didn’t spend a lot of time because using Fractalius would cover everything up anyway. No need to be Ansel Adams or da Vinci.

When I used Fractalius on the full picture, I got this:

Tree face

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you don’t like the default product from Fractalius, you can play around with literally millions of different settings. Obviously going through millions of settings isn’t something to be accomplished in this lifetime, so Fractalius provides a randomizer button, too. Just keep clicking on that button and if you find one that you really like, you can easily save the settings.

 In just five minutes I came up with nine more versions:

Tree face 1

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tree face 2

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tree face 3

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tree face 4

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tree face 5

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tree face 6

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tree face 7

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tree face 8

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tree face 9

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There is no such thing as a bad picture in today’s world because you can always make art out of it. Even Zoey the Cool Cat’s having fun:

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

29 thoughts on “There is no such thing as a bad picture

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      I have PaintShop Pro X4, Photo-Paint X6, and Draw X6. I actually prefer them over Photoshop, Lightroom, and Illustrator, and as I was doing research for this post I discovered that many Photoshop plugins also work in PaintShop Pro. I’ll be finding out if that’s true.

      Reply
  1. Sandra C.

    your wise old gran mother must be very proud of you and your beautiful work as a photographer :) creativity is life ) thank you so much for inspiring us again and again ….:)

    Reply
  2. Mondrak

    I used to have a Kodak Instamatic camera. It was a 110? Where you just clipped the film in and away you went. Brilliant thing with a pack of four flashes at a time that swivelled when one of bulbs popped.

    I’ve kept all of my photos – even the wedding ones

    Reply
  3. rommel

    Love the Zoey picture! That’s a lot of modification choices. My girlfriend still loves printing pictures, cutting them and making a scrapbook. She would put words, hers and from my blog. And when she’s done, she gives it to me. :D

    Reply
    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      There are 13 choices, each of which also has 100 choices. I’ve been trying to create an equation in Excel to tell me how many choices that is but that kind of math just isn’t in my head anymore.

      Reply
  4. eof737

    Pretty cool! I wont ask about price… but it creates pretty amazing stuff. Pixlr is free and I like what it can do for now and as I learn more it should be good. ;-)

    Reply
  5. Maxi

    “What comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with…” How great a saying is that? And true.

    Your grandmother certainly was a wise woman; makes me feel good when you talk about her. What a blessing for the two of you.

    Hugs – Maxi

    Reply
  6. Boomdeeadda

    Wow, cool stuff. I’ve always used Photoshop and actually learned the most by taking a class (5 x 3 hr evenings) from a professional photographer. It’s pretty powerful and I wasn’t using it half as well as I could. Andy Worhol would have thought your Russian download was pretty cool, I did. But I wouldn’t have been brave enough to download anything from there. I think your MWOG was ahead of the day, now scapbooking is a multi-million dollar biz

    Reply
  7. acflory

    Wow… I am so impressed. Oh and I’m still a fan of Corel too, although for the vectoring rather than photopaint. I probably should upgrade Corel Draw 8 sometime…

    Reply
      1. acflory

        Oh? Hmm… maybe it really is time to upgrade then. I’ve been putting it off because, well, I know 8 so well now and graphics is just a hobby for me. But it is getting long in the tooth. Thanks!

        Reply

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